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Mina's Mini Review - Defending Planets With Two
In Planet Defenders, you will control 3 different defenders who will harvest energies from various planets, which will help you upgrade your technologies and catch disposed robots in outer space.
The game board consists of a randomly arranged 3x3 grid of planets, with each side aligned with a stack of disposed robots.
In addition to the board, there is a stack of technology cards, with 4 placed face up. There are also 3 control tiles, each showing a number and a defender.
You will start the game with a player aid and 6 battery tokens.
Each turn, you will perform 1 or 2 main actions and possibly 1 extra action. To take a main action, you must pay a battery token to activate one control tile, move the depicted planet defender the indicated number of spaces, and activate the planet on which he lands. Planets allow you to gain energy cubes and batteries and allow you to convert energy cubes into batteries or convert energy cubes from one form to another.
Once you have activated one control tile using one battery from your reserve, you can activate another by using 2 batteries. Then, you may perform a single extra actions. As an extra action, you may either gain a technology card or capture a robot that is located on an edge of the board adjacent to one of the planet defenders you moved during your main action.
Technologies provide permanent benefits that include things like allowing you to convert energy cubes from one color to another, giving you energy discounts when capturing robots on certain planets, allowing you to move planet defenders further than permitted by control tiles, and converting certain energies to batteries and vica versa.
Robots provide points at the end of the game, but some also provide immediate, one-time benefits in the form of energy or batteries.
The game ends when two piles of robots have been depleted. At this point, you gain the points shown on your robots, as well as an escalating number of bonus points for collecting different types of robots and lots of technologies.
Played prior to review 5x
1. The cuteness knows no bounds
This game is adorable in every way. From the box, to the pieces, to the chunky energy cubes, everything just screams color, joy, and life! The theme is whimsical (robots defending planets from escaped robots who are flying around!?) and the illustrations match. I'm not a kid, but I was jumping for joy when I saw what was inside this box! If I were a kid, I probably would have started screaming...and possibly tried to stick one of those marshmallow-looking energy cubes in my mouth .
2. Easy to learn and quick to play
Planet Defenders is a game that can be taught and played relatively easily and quickly. With two players, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes, which is a reasonable amount of time for a light-medium-weight game.
3. Interesting combos and tactical decision points
Planet Defenders is a tactical game. You cannot make very long-term plans because nearly everything in the game is in a state of flux. With two players, there is certainly a bit more planning you can do than at higher player counts, but the planning is still short term. Fortunately, the short-term planning and tactical decision points are interesting enough to make up for the relative lack of long-term strategy.
Each turn, you have to decide whether to move one or two defenders. The first move costs one battery and you'll be able to afford that in most, if not all, cases, but the second costs two batteries. Batteries are tight, so you don't want to waste them taking actions that won't benefit you. At the same time, you want to ensure you get as many actions in as possible because actions get you energy and energy gets you points. Whether you decide to take the second action or not will mostly depend on your ability to reach tiles that will give you energies necessary for capturing robots or techs that are currently on display and this will depend on the current arrangement of the defenders and control tiles.
Sometimes, you can create beneficial synergies between the actions you take or use the double action to free a tile that is already occupied by a defender. Because you can't activate planets that are already occupied by defenders, this is sometimes necessary in order to ensure you are able to get exactly what you want in order to claim a robot.
When you are trying to decide which defenders to move around, you also have to take into consideration the robots you may be able to capture. Because you are only allowed to capture a robot adjacent to one of the defenders you moved, you aren't only thinking about which planets you want to activate and which energies you want to acquire, but also how to be most efficient with your actions. You are required to discard down to 5 energy cubes at the end of your turn, so you have to ensure you are managing them wisely and using them to collect robots and techs whenever you can.
4. Multi-faceted scoring
Planet Defenders gives you several ways to score, which encourages you to think not only about collecting as many VP-providing robots as possible, but also to think about which robots and technology cards you collect. Robots score not only the points shown, but also the provide bonus points for sets of different types and technology cards not only give you some in-game benefits, but also give you some bonus points if you collect a sufficient number. This means that you have several layers of scoring to consider when deciding which bonus actions to take and which robots to collect.
1. I am averse to randomness, so the gambling planet makes me sad and the random technologies + robots add to the randomness
One planet in the game allows you to roll a die to determine the activation result. Some results are clearly superior than others and those results are gained by high rolls. I'm not good at rolling high. I don't gamble. And I don't like that planet.
The other two points of randomness (i.e. the robot cards and tech cards) are easier for me to forgive, but they are present and make for the game quite light. The combination of these two things can mean that acquiring a tech that gives you an energy discount when recruiting robots on a particular planet can provide a strong, ongoing benefit or little benefit at all depending on how many robots that require the discounted energy type are present in the stack adjacent to that planet.
2. The constant flipping of the action tiles gets a bit tiring
This is a minor complaint, but it does irk me, so I have to mention it. Every time you activate a control tile, you have to flip it over before the next player's turn. Because there are a total of 3 control tiles and you could (and in many cases, will) take 2 actions each turn, you're going to be flipping at least 1 or 2 control tiles every turn. I feel like the need to exhaust one ability for another could have been dealt with in a much more elegant way than this. A sliding marker to indicate the availability of actions would have been preferable.
3. Not very "different"
Planet Defenders isn't exactly the most innovative game ever. You are activating actions that allow you to move pawns around a board to gather and convert resources and then collect VP cards and techs that make it easier for you to gain more VP cards. It's a simple game of resource gathering/conversion and set collection. So, if you are looking for fresh and new mechanisms that are going to blow your mind, this might not be the game for you. But it does have a unique theme!
Planet Defenders is a terrifically sweet and delicious, fast-playing, fast-paced game that provides plenty of interesting decision points to keep engagement levels high when in the mood for a light-hearted diversion. Having been sick for most of the past week, I was certainly in the mood for it. And Peter, who is a great fan of lighter, tactical fare grew quite fond of this little treasure. We had a lot of fun with this game and will definitely keep on playing it when we feel like a light, playful jaunt through space.
MINA'S LOVE METER SOME LOVE
Mina's Love Meter
- I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale) Dislike
- I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale) Some like
- I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale) Like
- I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale) Some love
- I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale) Lots of love
- I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale) All love all the time
- I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)